What Would You Buy A Wendy

After looking at the essentials and getting lots of people asking about what else would make your journey more comfortable I thought I would look into what I always tell myself I will get and always forget to, these ideas are great for when family and friends ask you what you want as a gift to take travelling with you.

I know that before every trip I take, both my mum and my dad ask me about what I think I might need for my trip, in all honesty I never really give it a thought because I have traveled so much with all the things that I usually take that I never give thought to new things in the market that might be really useful for travel.

Having had a look around the Internet and on some of my favourite travel blogs I have noticed that there is a definite trend for what people now use as their staple travel items. So when your parents or friends are fussing and asking what they can give you to make your trip easier then just hand them this list of useful items and let them pick out whichever thing they think will be best, just make sure to remove anything from the list that someone buys you or you might be stuck with several of one item 🙂

Now the things on this list vary from relatively inexpensive to the more pricey side of life, this is mostly down to ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Some people are very lucky to have more money in life than others so this list is made to accommodate everyone, no matter what their monetary income.

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Portable Harddrive

As I have mentioned before, a portable harddrive is one of the number one things that everyone should have when they travel. Harddrives vary in size from as small as 1GB up to a 1TB, chances are you won’t be needing a one terabyte harddrive, but 16GB to 32GB is a perfect size. It will allow you to free up so much space on camera memory cards by transferring pictures over to a hard drive, not only that but you can fill a harddrive with movies as well which can be great to watch when you are stuck in an airport or on a bus or car for a long journey. You can get harddrives from anywhere on the Internet and they vary wildly in prices but you can expect to pay around 40GBP for a 16GB portable hard drive

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Swiss Army Knife

My Dad gave me a Swiss Army Knife when I first traveled to Thailand, I must admit that when he first gave it to me I did give a look that I often do with my Dad. My Dad is a cross between Liam Neeson, Bruce Willis and Grant Mitchell, he is very protective of me and is constantly concerned that, much like Liam Neeson, he will need to come and rescue me at some point in life. Over the years my Dad has been the person who has wanted to put a tracker in my phone, have direct numbers to ‘friends’ at the Embassy and to break the legs of every boy that’s ever made me cry, so needless to say when I told him that I was going to Thailand he insisted that I have a Swiss Army Knife, to use not only for the useful tools it possesses but also as a weapon if I ever get into a situation. Now I haven’t had to use it as a weapon but I can’t count the amount of times that my Swiss Army Knife has come in useful as a screwdriver, bottle opener and pair of scissors.

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Back up ATM or Bank Account

Credit cards and debit cards are totally fine to bring out to Thailand with you when you volunteer, the one thing I would suggest that people organise is a secondary back up account that has emergency money in. The details and card for this account should always be kept separate from your normal account, if anything happens to your regular card and account then you have a back up there to help you. This isn’t really something somebody can buy for you but many people are concerned about volunteers when they leave for Thailand, having an account which they have put money into for an emergency can ease people’s concerns about your safety and also provides you with some help if you need it.

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Travel Towel

This might sound really silly to some people but everyone should bring with them a Travel Towel, a normal towel is perfectly ample, but if you get a specific travel towel they are normally very compact, light weight, made of quick dry material and nearly always have their own pack away bag. I have one of these and it is great to just clip onto whichever bag I am taking with me for the weekend, the week or however long you are travelling for; especially as not every hotel or hostel will have their own towels. These kinds of towels are also great to use as blankets on flights or buses and as pillows as well, the amount of times that I have been sat on a bus absolutely freezing is just too high, but thankfully I have had a travel towel on hand to keep me snug, warm and comfortable.

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Adapter Plug

You HAVE to have an adapter plug for when you travel to a new country, it is just something that comes with travelling, not everywhere has the same plug and voltage so having the right plug is important. The best one you can buy is one of the universal plugs that you can make every other plug from, but if you can’t get one of these or just don’t think you need one that makes every plug then you should pick up a US adapter. Thailand uses the two prong plugs so US plugs work just fine here, they cope well will the voltage difference as well, I have two that I use every day and they haven’t failed me yet.

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Power Box

There are never enough sockets in any room that I have ever stayed in, in any country in the world, so having a power box that allows you to increase the amount of outlets you have is a god send and will save you time with charging everything up at once as opposed to one at a time. I personally always carry with me an iPhone, iPad, 3DS and my Thai phone so I need at least 4 plugs in my room, something which never happens. I normally have to unplug a fridge or TV in rooms I stay in to individually charge items which is not only a pain but is time consuming; having a power box eliminates the need to wait for one thing to charge at a time.

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Amazon Kindle

I personally don’t own one of these, yet. I keep looking at them when I have a snoop about on Amazon for things I need, and I keep wanting to buy one. They are so small, lightweight, robust and have access to thousands of books through Amazon. They work in the daylight as well with some strange magic technology that, in all honesty, sort of freaks me out, I always think the screen looks like it is just one of those paper ones that phone shops put on phones back in the day when you didn’t have real phones to test. At the minute I use my iPad as my e-book reader, it is great and has all the books I want but my iPad gets heavy and chunky when I read from it for a long time, so I think if you are just wanting an e-reader for your trip and you don’t already own a tablet then a Kindle will be your best friend. Here is the link to the current Amazon Kindle section.

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Books

Some people just prefer to have a physical book in their hands as opposed to an e-book reader or tablet, I can completely sympathize with everyone who thinks like that. I really miss having an actual book in my hands, the smell of the pages and the glue and the actual feel of turning the pages and being able to see how far you have read through a huge tome of a book.

Books are hugely space consuming however and also weigh your bag down more than you will realise, but if you insist on having books then just be prepared to deal with the weight of them. I always have to have a physical copy of Lonely Planet guides, I find they are perfect to travel with and read through when you have a spare hour or so and I can also highlight and mark the places and things I want to see.

Don’t think you have to have just travel guides with you though, bring any book you fancy and when you have finished it you can swap it with the books that we have in the volunteer houses. I personally have recently finished reading all of the Game of Thrones books, which I can tell you are much better than the show gives credit too. They are however very large books in part so I read mine on my iPad.

Here is a link to the Lonely Planet Travel Guide section of their website so that you can have a look and pick out the guide you think will suit you best.

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Journal

I think that everyone should journal every day when they travel. I know it seems tedious to do it everyday but I promise you that when you get back to your home country you will wish that you had done it. If you make note of every hilarious quote and situation you won’t ever forget them and when you look back to your journal years later if will bring back all of the memories as if they were yesterday. For me, I love to have leather bound journals with recycled paper pages, I think they feel and look beautiful and filling them up feels amazing. Knowing that in a few years I can look back at my journals and remember everything makes me very happy.

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Cards

Playing Cards are an invaluable item to take whilst volunteering or traveling, no matter what language you speak or the people around you speak, everyone understands the universal language playing cards. They provide hours of entertainment without the need to have electricity or batteries, something which can be incredibly useful when you are in the Elephant Village on our Elephant project or you are on the journey to and from any other project. Cards can be as cheap or as expensive as you like, just as long as it is a standard 52 card deck of cards, Bobs your uncle.

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Waterproof Money Belt

Now I always have a little giggle to myself whenever I see volunteers with these money belt things, they always come across as really uncool and completely unnecessary to me. Thailand is not a place that has crime enough for you to need an underclothes money belt; I have lived here for 9 months, I can assure you that having a wallet is just fine.
I will say however that the money belts, especially the waterproof ones are perfect for keeping all your valuables in like your passport, money and booking confirmation papers in. You don’t need to wear them with you everywhere you go as the volunteers houses are secure and safe and you won’t get your passport, money or other possessions stolen.

I wish that I had had one of these at Songkran in April as I must admit that my phone and money did get absolutely soaked and having a waterproof money belt would have been a god send.

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Travel Pillow

Much like with a travel towel, a travel pillow might seem like a silly idea to some people but I can assure you that these amazing, squishy, comfy pieces of cloud can make a stressful, long and normally uncomfortable journey into one where you can sleep your way through it. They might look silly, but I assure you that they will make you so comfortable that you won’t care if you look silly or not. They are inexpensive and easy to find so there is no excuse to not have one 🙂

Now that you know all the smaller things that you can bring with you to enjoy your time with us here at Starfish Volunteers, you can go to the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page to find which volunteer program will be your once in a life time memory.

Then as always check out my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see what else I am up to on a day to day basis 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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What Would Wendy Bring?

After looking at some of the specifics you might need to bring with you on the Elephant Project I was thinking about a packing list that covers the basics needed for all of the projects.

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You are not going to war, you don’t need ALL of those socks, pans, ration packs and you certainly don’t need that AK-47

So to start off with, you don’t need 75% of the things that you think you do. If you have already packed and are using this as a checklist then you should completely unpack and start again. I made the HUGE mistake of overpacking when I came to volunteer, I had a British Army burgen that was stuffed tight, a huge duffel bag as well as a smaller backpack as well. This is far too much!!! In your normal life do you think you honestly need 20KGs of clothes to survive for two weeks?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

If your airline baggage allowance is the standard 20KGs then you shouldn’t need any more than 10KG in total. Everything you think you need, you probably don’t, chances are you can get it out here and much, much cheaper than you could do in your home country.

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This is the best way to pack your bag once you have everything laid out that you need, for volunteering with us just ignore the sleeping bag part, just stick more t-shirts in there

So lets start off with the clothing items you will need for your trip. We have washing facilities here in Surin so you don’t need to worry about bring 14 pairs of pants if you are here for two weeks and the same goes for clothes as well.

You will need;

  • T-shirts – You need to bring at least one or two t-shirts that cover your shoulders for when you visit temples, schools or other places of importance.
  • Vest tops – In Surin it is perfectly ok to wear vest tops on a day to day basis, not so much in Bangkok or our other location in Sangklaburi as there, you have to dress conservatively and cover your shoulders.
  • Long sleeved shirts – I would HIGHLY recommend you bring or aquire at least one long sleeved shirt, buses and trains can get cold from airconditioning as can the evenings during the rainy season. They are also great for keeping you cool whilst on project and protecting your skin if you are sensitive to the sun.
  • Shorts – Girls, try not to bring anything super short, Thailand is a respectable and conservative place, you won’t be making any friends if your shorts are smaller than your granny pants. For guys, board shorts are perfect.
  • Trousers – or some kind of harem or fisherman pants are a must have, the Grand Palace in Bangkok is super conservative about its dress regulations, as well as all temples and places of importance. You need to have something that will cover your knees, and no, leggings are not appropriate in this instance.
  • Swim Wear – In Surin we have two hotels which both have swimming pools where it is acceptable to wear western bikinis but if you are planning on going swimming in rivers or lakes then you must be more covered up, shirt and shorts are the norm; it is also frowned upon to wear bikini tops as bras (sorry boys :D) For guys, wearing normal swimming trucks are fine but none of that Speedos malarky!
  • A light waterproof – If you are volunteering in the rainy season (Mid May to Oct) then you are advised to bring one of these with you. I brought one that fits into one of those small bags so it doesn’t take up space and used it quite a few times during my own project.
  • A hat or cap – full brimmed hats are the best thing, they prevent your neck from getting burnt and can make the difference between sunstroke and just being warm. They might not be the coolest looking thing but I promise you will regret not having one.
  • Flip flops – Thai people live in flip flops
  • Trainers or sneakers – great for using whilst doing everyday activities as they protect your feet more than flip flops do
  • Walking/hiking boots – I think everyone should bring a pair of durable shoes, chances are you will be spending time in a jungle type environment, weather it be on project or a weekend trip to Khao Yai, and shoes like this are a god send.
  • You DO NOT need to bring jewelry or accessories with you

On a side not, make sure that all of your clothes are natural fibres, they keep you cool in the heat and are much easier to clean whilst you are here, there is nothing worse than wearing synthetic fibers when it is as hot and humid as it is here.

Obviously you won’t just be bringing clothes with you when you travel so this is a pretty comprehensive list of ‘other stuff’ you might need.

  • Passport – you are required to always have a form of ID with you in Thailand, plus you need it to get on the plane.
  • Relevant Visa Information – If you aren’t staying over 4 weeks in Thailand then you don’t need to worry about visa, if you aren’t sure then check this blog post.
  • Flight Details – have one copy in your hold luggage, one in your cabin luggage and one with somebody back at home as well.
  • Insurance Details – again have three copies of this just in case, a lot of companies give you cards now a days so keep that safe with your passport.
  • Itinerary – Some people don’t like having itineraries but I think they provide a peace of mind for friends and family back home; make a note of the importance phone numbers you might need whilst with us. Keep all of your documents in something waterproof and secure.
  • Wallet
  • MoneyDO NOT bring travelers cheques to Surin, we don’t use them, nor do I think any of the shops will know what to do with them.
  • Credit/debit cards – I would bring cards with you, even if it is just a back up, they are easily replaced and blocked unlike money. You will get charged 150 Baht when you withdraw from an ATM and that does not include the charge you receive from your own bank so withdrawing larger sums of money is a better idea.
  • Universal adapter – or at the very least a US adapter
  • Camera – You WILL need a camera
  • Rechargeable battery pack for your camera or rechargeable batteries – Thai batteries suck.
  • Phone and charger – I brought my iPhone out with me when I was a volunteer but if you don’t want to risk it getting damaged or lost then you can pick up a very cheap cricket phone here.
  • Laptop/tablet/iPad – I brought mine out with me and used them quite a lot but there are several internet cafes within walking distance of your house if you don’t want to risk your own.
  • Any medication that you are on – This must be in its original bottles/packets.
  • Sunscreen – At LEAST factor 30
  • Mosquito Spray – At LEAST 30% Deet
  • Small First Aid Kit
  • Contraception – Something that came as a shock to me recently is how high the numbers of people with HIV in Thailand is, you REALLY don’t want HIV, or a baby I imagine, so please make sure that you bring protection with you; you just never know what might happen.
  • Sunglasses – The sunglare here is super strong so sunglasses are recommended.
  • MP3/iPod – Great source of entertainment for the plane and any other journey or down time.
  • Books – Great for the train journey to Surin, we also have a book swap at the volunteer houses so feel free to mix and match your reading material with volunteers who came before you.
  • Phrase Book – I really do recommend volunteers to learn at least some Thai whilst they are with us, plus you may find yourself in a situation where there is no translator and having a phrase book with you can make a huge difference.
  • Diary/Journal – In years to come you won’t remember all the in jokes and amusing things that happened to you whilst you volunteered in Thailand so write a journal everyday, even if it is just bullet points, I promise that you will appreciate it later down the line.

If you don’t have any of the things on the above two lists then I would advise, if you can’t get it for free, then wait until you get here. There are heaps of places to buy cheap clothes and miscellaneous items from if you need them, not only is it cheaper but it helps the local economy and the independent vendors that you purchase from.

If you thinkWell I might use it I can assure you that you won’t. The same goes for if you think you will only use something once, Thailand isn’t the back o’ beyond, it is a well developed country that has the same things your home country does and often the exact same brands as well; just with a lot more whitening products! Keep an eye out for these when you are picking up toiletries as often it is all written in Thai so can be difficult to ascertain if something is whitening or not.

My last piece of advice is, don’t stress out about what to bring. You are overthinking way to much if you are getting stressed out, if you want a blanket title for what you should wear, like on a party invitiation, then it would be conservative summer wear.

If you look at the pictures on the Starfish WebsiteStarfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page or the Starfish Tumblr you can see a lot of what our volunteers are wearing on and off project.

Alternatively you can also check out my TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see the sort of things I wear on a regular basis. Click the blue button below for my Instagram 🙂

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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Not many pictures this post so here is a cat with its face in some bread.

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